(12/9/03 11:57 pm)
Re: more tales|
The ugly duckling used to bother me not when he was trying to be a duck, but during the winter. I always hated that part when he lived in the farmhouse. I don't know why. I had no problem with the ducks not wanting him.
OT RE organization: I am not as organized as I would like to be, it is just that I am HAPPIEST when I am organized - with all my "swans" in a row (couldn't resist).
Re other stories: All kinds of stories can have negative effects on children, but do they? Think about the many reactions books like "Huckleberry Finn", "Bambi" - yes, there is a book, and "The Yearling" have gotten. It isn't surprising that someone would want to criticize fairy tales sooner or later. It just surprised me that "beauty" was the characteristic that created the stir in this study, while the study ignored the offsetting positive characteristics of the protaganists.
(12/10/03 9:07 am)
An interesting news article|
I agree that fairy tales are much more than about beauty, but I think the study has a point. Each tale conveys many messages--the hallmark of a good story--and one message that is not too subtle, is that the heroes, in the vast majority, are beautiful. This is especially apparent in the illustrations.
As a child, the illustrations interested me as much as the story.
The heroines all had classical features, long flowing hair, slim
figures, beautifully draped dresses. The other female figures, if
good, tended to be older and round. The evil ones tended to be pointy.
This was especially true of illustrations of H.J.Ford who worked
on Lang's Fairy Books.
Looking through Maria Tatar's Classic
Fairy Tales, I find it also to be the case in the many examples
she's chosen for illustrations. Children heroes all have appealing
faces. Only the secondary characters are more varied--they are not
Looking at the links to modern illustrators of fairy tales in a recent thread on this board also produces the same result: beautiful women as heroes. There are also beautiful evil women, and beautiful fairies (who can be good, bad, or neither), but that doesn't detract from the main point. To be good means, in addition to other traits, being beautiful.
Now there are good reasons for this: entering fairy tales means entering a fabulous world of make-believe. Powerful stories are told with mythic creatures and magical events. (Hans Christian Andersen's tales, to me, are more the exception than the rule.) In most fairy tales, the hero needs bravery, truth, good manners, luck, compassion, sometimes intelligence, and, yes, very often, beauty to succeed.
The message was not lost to me, as a child. I dreamed of the day I would grow long legs, have perfect features, an unblemished face, and no longer need glasses. As a mother of daughters, I know it's not lost on them either. I certainly don't think this is unique to fairy tales--take a look at what faces and figures appear on TV and in magazines. But the fact remains that 99 percent of the people you see every day do not look anything like the fairy tale illustrations of the heroines--nor should they. Fairy tales are a world of make-believe.
As a parent, I have tried to convey my love of fairy tales to my
children, but, out of concern of the message of beauty = good which
is embedded in most
stories, I have also supplied them with a great deal of other reading
material where heroes aren't always beautiful. That's really what
I take away from the study.
All the best,
Edited by: AliceB at: 12/10/03 9:12 am
(12/10/03 12:25 pm)
beauty=good or good=beauty? |
the message of beauty = good
Is it not the other way about? Good=beauty. And it's surely a spiritual lesson. I'm not sure why people are so obsessed with physical perfection anyway. At this point in my life I don't really notice it any more. What you see most clearly is what's inside. Like Picasso I suppose! ( thinking of "Woman with an Artichoke" - what a picture of aggression!)
(12/10/03 3:22 pm)
Re: An interesting news article|
[i]For me, it's easy to imagine a kid raising their hand and asking, "why didn't the other animals like the duckling before he was a swan?"[/i]
But that's a great question! Sooner or later, all children have to face this issue in the real world, whether they are part of the "in" group or the outsider. This story endures because it tells the truth. Maybe it's not a pleasant truth, but ignoring it won't make it go away. Allowing children in a classroom to ask this sort of question--and encouraging them to discuss it as a group--will help them find their own answers.
Also, even though the ugly duckling wasn't accepted by the ducks or outside world, the swans knew him as their own. They welcomed him and loved him before he transformed into a beauty.